‘Healthy Home Experts Since 1924’
Joe Urso has had a close connection to Aerus since he was a little boy growing up in Connecticut. The company started with vacuum cleaners, then expanded into water conditioning and air purification. Today Urso is Chairman and CEO of Aerus Electrolux which does business throughout the United States, Canada and worldwide.
“I had aunts and uncles who worked at the Electrolux manufacturing facility. So years later when I was presented the opportunity to purchase the company, I was very excited because of my family’s heritage,” he said. “That tradition continues on today, as my son and daughter work in key roles inside the company’s organization.” Son Philip Urso is responsible for the company’s marketing programs. Daughter Laura Urso is Director of Special Events and Incentives.
The company began in 1924, when a Swedish businessman emigrated to the US and created Electrolux USA in partnership with the Swedish parent Electrolux AB “to sell the world’s best vacuum cleaners in North America.” The company expanded to Canada in 1932 and continues to thrive there today.
A new water purification system
In 1968, the Sara Lee Corporation bought Electrolux USA. Then in 1989, the company created Purelux, the first residential under-sink water purification system combining UV light and activated carbon filtration. (Actor Lloyd Bridges was the company’s spokesperson.) In 1998, Urso, a former investment banker, purchased Electrolux from Sara Lee. He renamed the company Aerus in 2003, “to demonstrate our commitment to become a world leader in air and water purification,” he said.
“The company at the time had more than five million current customers who had only purchased vacuum cleaners from us. We knew they loved us,” Urso said. “An extensive survey that started the week I purchased the company and lasted six months told us that 98 percent of them would love for us to bring them air and water purification products. We began the transition a couple of years later, first with air in 2000, then water in 2004.
“Today we have several hundred employees. We export and sell to more than 60 countries through more than 400 franchises and 4,000 distributors. Over 10,000 people sell our products every month. And although we have a large footprint, we love the sense of family that we have in this company that is almost 100 years old. The company is privately held and a large majority of shares are owned by family and key employees, with a small share owned by some original investors.
‘We create opportunities’
“We believe that everyone on earth has the right to breathe clean air and drink pure, clean water. Our mission is to ensure that this is available to everyone. And we create opportunities for sales organizations aligned with our mission to create a healthy environment for everyone.” Aerus offers an extensive line of air and water purification, water conditioners, floor care and other products and services that create and maintain allergy-friendly, clean and healthy indoor environments for homes, healthcare facilities and businesses.
“We are the healthy home experts,” Urso said. “Aerus is committed to providing cutting-edge technologies and unparalleled service. Our core belief and commitments are to provide opportunities for people to serve others by bringing them solutions to have pure and healthy air to breathe, water to drink, surfaces to touch and places to live and work across the world. We believe that pure water is a preeminent concern of most people. We are passionate about providing the best solutions, at affordable prices to everyone.”
Urso said, “We have had the good fortune of attracting a great team to support our distributors and our business. Our proven system has helped a lot of already established water dealers double their business. We offer compelling business opportunities to people who are willing to work hard for their own success. We believe in 100-percent customer satisfaction.” Aerus has experienced phenomenal growth over the past 10 years, largely because of its proprietary sales system. “That is a closely guarded secret that can only be shared with our distributors. It creates more customers, higher closing rates and bigger profits than our competitors,” Urso said.
What the future holds
“When I look at the issues with PFAs in the drinking water and the different emerging contaminant issues across the country, along with the aging water infrastructure, I see a real need to come up with cutting-edge solutions for these global health problems. I am fascinated by the opportunity that lies ahead but I am concerned by customer confusion caused by cheap, ineffective, mostly imported products with ineffective technologies and misleading or false claims.”
A surprising new market for Aerus is air filters for schools. In 2015 and 2016, there were major natural gas leaks outside of Los Angeles, CA. More than 10,000 families were nearly forced to leave their homes. Aerus worked with Southern Cal Gas and a major Aerus distributor in the community, Canoga Park HVAC, to install over 10,000 ActivePure units in homes and schools, enabling the community to comfortably stay in their neighborhood.
“In 2017, our industry-leading ActivePure technology was inducted into the NASA Hall of Fame. ActivePure technology is engineered to eliminate contaminants in the air and on surfaces in homes, offices, hospitals, daycares, hotels and sports facilities,” Urso said. ActivePure joins other health-improvement innovations like LASIK eye surgery and implantable pacemakers, according to the Space Foundation website. “Of the products that we sell, well over half of the company-wide sales involve some form of this technology,” he said.
Urso sees no shortage of business in the future. “If you look at the US EPA or Environmental Work Group websites, you will be shocked at what’s in your water. The same issues exist with air quality—just look at the smog reports in Los Angeles, CA or Cleveland, OH. The water and air industries each have their own unique set of challenges, as air pollution and water pollution issues are more of a concern across the globe.